Here is the second in my Ocean Invasion series:
"Ocean Invasion #2: Nectar for the Orcas"
This is the first in a series of pieces I'm doing.
"Ocean Invasion #1: Octopus arborealus"
Click for larger. NOTE: actual resolution quality of the piece is MUCH higher than these compressed jpeg images.
I was asked by another artist whether my inspiration was the "Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus" campaign. Honestly, I actually had never heard of such a thing, and was a wee bit disappointed to learn of it's existence Then again, a tree octopus is too cool an idea for to have not already been thought of.
I was asked to take some pictures of our scientific model organisms for a colleague. I figured you all might like to see them as well, considering how magnificently cool and weird they are. If any are used for publication, they will be removed from here.
The first is the Bat Star, Patiria miniata (formerly Asterina miniata) and the second is the California Sea Cucumber, Parastichopus californicus. Click on image for larger versions.
I know of at least a couple of people who were curious how I went about making my latest art, "K-T." Here is an abbreviated walkthrough...
First came the idea. I've had the general idea of the composition in my head sometime: a view from a mammal ancestor's burrow of the distant K-T meteor.
When I decided to actually make it with the free and open-source Blender and GIMP, I first made a very quick (like 5 minute) sketch of my idea layout (Note: You can click on all images for larger versions):
Next up: modeling the creatures. All objects are modeled as a 3D mesh, working with them and sculpting them at times much like clay - except it's all in the computer.
Next up comes the coloring, texturing, and addition of fur.
In reality, the coloring and texturing is done on 2D images (using the free photoshop-like GIMP), which are then mapped onto the 3D mesh:
Next up: a poseable armature has to be made and applied to the 3D mesh. Think of this as an actual skeleton that the mesh will deform with.
The armature has to be tested with lots of poses to make sure the mesh warps correctly.
Rinse and repeat for the other objects:
Now start putting objects into the scene:
And finally we have everything in place
At this point alot of time is put into positioning lights and tweaking textures so that everything looks good. Lighting is probably the hardest thing to get right (especially with fur).
Finally, the image is rendered and the image levels and coloring and effects are tweaked using GIMP.
Note: you can get a super high-res large poster of this artwork here.
All in all, the entire process took 3 weeks. I could have easily spent another 3 weeks tweaking and fixing many aspects of the piece and adding more details, but I was pretty much ready to move on to something else. So, I got it to the point where I was happy with it as is.
I hope you enjoyed it!
(Note: As always, click image for better versions - these are heavily compressed)
Emerald Isle, NC
Last weekend we had a short but nice going away get-away with some friends (psychology graduate students, a parole officer, and a lawyer/rockstar) in Emerald Isle, North Carolina.
My dorky goal was to find more fossilized shark teeth (see previous awesome finds here), in addition to the obvious general goal of having a salty time.
Unfortunately, a storm kept most of the cool ocean debris from washing ashore until Sunday morning. Nevertheless, I found quite a few interesting things.
First off: fossil shark teeth!
Skate Egg Case:
Unknown wicked fish jaw:
Shell Fossils in matrix:
A cool fossil of what I think is a bryozoan.
I found a nice piece of fossilized bone. Of what? Who knows? Probably whale or dolphin. Or perhaps mermaid.
I also found several chunks of what I believe is either anthracite coal, or the next metamorphic step - graphite (I'm no geologist - thoughts?). It's very light weight, very hard, and very faceted - which doesn't come across very well in still shots:
One of the coolest things I found is a relation to organisms I will soon be working with in my new lab: starfish!!
I found two of these, both beautifully colored and still alive. They were washed ashore by the storm, so I tossed em back. I have no idea the likelihood of their survival, but I can say they didn't wash back ashore over the next two days. (I'm awaiting the expertise of Christopher Mah of the Echinoblog for species identification).
Update: it's a Royal Sea Star, articulatus. Quoth the EchinoMaster: "Basically..they are your stereotypical "sand star" predatory on infaunal bivalves and pretty common on sandy-muddy bottoms of the Northeast US. Attractively colored animals to be sure!" Thanks Chris!
We also got to hit the NC Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores. It's a pretty rad place, so I was way more interested in pointing my eyes at all the ocean wonders, rather than pointing a camera. But I did get this cool shot of a gator.
Ooh - and apparently someone else took a shot of us there - me and John playing with the rays (the ray touch tank was by far the coolest part!).
Topsail Island, NC
A month ago, we also had the opportunity to hit Topsail Island, NC.
Fun was had. Things were seen.
Shark Teeth (Yes - I showed these before).
Mole Crabs (Emerita sp.)
Ghost Crab (Ocypode sp.)
And that's it - images are all I have for you at the moment. Enjoy.
I swear, I will have slightly more posts once I get moved to Pittsburgh and settled.
And just because I never show her (she's camera shy), I'm sneaking in this shot of my wife: